Shwezigon Pagoda

Shwezigon Pagoda

Type
Pagoda
Location
Nyaung-U
Built
11th Century
Monument No.
1

Architecture

It's located four miles northeast of Old Bagan at the edge of the most important regional town of Nyaung-U. Shwezigon Pagoda is a solid, cylindrical structure resting on three square terraces and a prototype of later stupas all over Myanmar.

It has a bold, waistband around the bell-shaped dome, and a series of concentric mouldings, with finial rises near the top and crowned with an umbrella. It is one of the 55 encased pagodas in Bagan. According to tradition, the inner one was built by King Anawrahta and covered with the stone bricks hewn out of the Tuyin Taung quarries by King Kyanzittha. There are several plaques adorning its terraces.

All four sides of the pagoda have a central stairway, which are guarded by Makaras (sea creatures from Hindu mythology), leading to the top of the terraces. The three terraces contain beautiful glazed terra-cotta plaques depicting the 550 Jataka tales, the stories about the previous lives of Buddha.

On each of the four sides of the pagoda is a small temple which enshrines a standing Buddha. On either side of the east approach to the pagoda is a square stone pillar with Mon inscriptions on all four sides.

History

Glimmering in the sun, the huge gold-plated Shwezigon pagoda is one of the oldest and most impressive monuments of Bagan.

According to tradition, it was commenced and completed by the two most famous Kings in Bagan history, Anawrahta, the founder of the Bagan Kingdom, and King Kyanzittha. Construction started around 1059 and completed at the end of the 11th century.

According to a legend, the spot where the pagoda was to be built was chosen by a white elephant carrying the relic on his back. It is believed to enshrine the sacred frontal bone and a tooth relic of Buddha. Thus, the pagoda is held in great veneration by the Buddhists of the whole of Myanmar.

WITHIN THE PAGODA GROUNDS

Several shrines and temple buildings have been added to the complex since the construction of the stupa. The pagoda complex is surrounded by a wall measuring 230 meters on each side with an access gate in all of its four sides. At the main entrance gate is an enormous white mythological lion standing guard. A long, covered walkway with vendors leads to the pagoda.

In the pagoda museum, there is a display of a large wooden door-leaf with the carvings of musicians, dancers, floral designs and patterns artistically executed. This door-leaf is over nine centuries old, and is one of the eight original wooden door-leaves from the entrances of the inner wooden enclosure wall.

Shewzigon is considered an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists because of the sacred relics of Buddha enshrined in it and the following nine wonders:
  1. The Hti (umbrella) on the top has no buttresses.
  2. The shadows cast by the walls do not change position.
  3. If a gold foil is dropped from the top of the pagoda, it never falls outside of the enclosure.
  4. The precinct can hold any number of visitors and pilgrims.
  5. There is always an early morning offering of steamed rice to the Pagoda.
  6. If a big drum is beaten on one side of the Pagoda, the sound cannot be heard on the other side.
  7. The Pagoda gives you an illusion of it being on a ridge.
  8. In spite of heavy rainfall, no rain water remains in its precinct.
  9. The Khayey trees and Chayar trees in the precinct bloom all the year round.
As the pagoda is wonderfully illuminated at dusk by spotlights creating a mystical atmosphere, a visit to Shwezigon at night will offer you a wonderful experience.

Festival

The Shwezigon pagoda festival is held during the 9th month of the Burmese calendar (December) and it attracts thousands of devotees every year.
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Ministry of Hotels and Tourism
Japan International Cooperation Agency
Bagan Tourism Development Project

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